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Welcome to the Shallows

Updated: Jan 22, 2022

This post was originally written and posted on the Swirl and Thread Book Blog on June 4, 2020 as part of the DEAD AIR book launch activities. I thought it would be nice to share it with those who may have missed it back then. Enjoy.

Water. When it is crystal clear, it can be a beautiful thing. Photographs from the Caribbean islands show sandy beaches and blue depths that dazzle and entrance. Water cools and refreshes those that who have been in oppressive heat and cleanses those who are dirty. It is part of what is required to sustain life on this planet.

We are surrounded by water, ebbing from the oceans, seas, and rivers. And, in southern New Jersey there is a small lake. This lake isn’t special in any particular way. It is just a lake on the edge of a farm near the interstate. The water contained within isn’t clear like in the Caribbean. It is murky and dark. Although it is not deep, you can’t see the bottom. There is a small sandy beach along one side and a dock that stretches out into the water from the shore. It is a harmless little body of water, used for ice skating in the winter, and perhaps a quick swim in dead of summer.

I’ve seen this lake a thousand times as I’ve driven north up the interstate. Just past exit 10 and down the slope along the right shoulder. The lake has always fascinated me. It looked so quaint and perfect, like one of those old fishing holes you’d hear about on old Andy Griffith reruns. I could picture Andy and Opie sitting on the dock, casting their fishing lines out over the rippling surface of the lake. Not really catching anything, but having a good time anyway.

Shortly after my first book was published, my travels took me past the lake again. At the time, my mind was in a dark place. I was working on my next thriller and its topic had put me in a bit of a funk. Perhaps this is why the lake appeared different to me. That sense of tranquility and perfection was gone. I found myself focusing on the water. The dark and murky water. I wondered what might lie beneath its surface. What secrets might it conceal? What crimes could have been committed along its banks or within its waters? For days after, my mind was frantic with ideas of how to despoil the picture perfect scenes that I’d once attributed to this small south Jersey lake. Little did I know that these efforts would become the inspiration for something bigger.

Fast forward to two years ago. I was searching for ideas for my third book, which would eventually become DEAD AIR. This small lake resurfaced in my mind, along with my darker contemplations on its nature and ability to harbor secrets. As ideas formed, the lake took on a personality of its own, and might even be considered a character in itself. It came alive within the pages of the new book. It had a history and a backstory. I even gave it a nickname. It’s this nickname that strikes fear into the heart of my protagonist, Kaitlyn Ashe. She knows of this small lake and has been there many times before. It holds a secret that she’s spent her whole life running from. But her past is about to resurface at a small lake known as … The Shallows.


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